Barak and Cabel mend fences

Rival parties to use Cabel's comments on Labor leader in election ads.

Barak intense 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Barak intense 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Labor chairman Ehud Barak resolved his dispute with party secretary-general Eitan Cabel in a late-night, four-hour meeting between the two at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv that both sides described as very difficult. Cabel resisted many overtures to meet with Barak on Monday after he called the defense minister a "paranoid coward." But he eventually agreed to leave his family vacation in Kiryat Shmona for an 11 p.m. meeting initiated by Social Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog. In the meeting, Cabel denied Barak's allegations that he had conspired with Barak's fired aide Eldad Yaniv to take power away from the party chairman in changes being made to the party constitution. Barak denied that he had conspired with Labor ministers to remove Cabel from his position, and take powers away from him. "It was a comedy of errors," Herzog told The Jerusalem Post. "Both sides thought the other one was doing something that he wasn't. But they both realized that the dispute was futile, and now they are turning a new page. It is very important that it is over, because the dispute could have snowballed out of control." Cabel revealed that in the meeting, he and Barak initially continued their war of words. But by the end of it, both sides apologized and agreed to move on. Their next step will be to work transparently on a new Labor constitution set to come to a vote in January. "We have no choice but to work together," Cabel told the Post. "For all of us, I hope this will be a turning point in our history that we can all learn lessons from for the future." Sources in Likud and Kadima said they intended to take advantage of the "civil war" in Labor. They said Cabel's quotes about Barak would be remembered when they started working on their campaigns for the next general election. A senior Likud official said Barak was "preparing the noose to hang himself" and that he did not need any help from rival parties to self-destruct. The source said the Cabel incident was an important reminder to the public that the façade of the new Barak is "nonsense" and that Labor is trying to sell the public "the same old damaged goods." Kadima officials said the Cabel quotes were not nearly as good as Likud MK Silvan Shalom's attack on Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu when Shalom compared the Likud under Netanyahu's leadership to the Ba'ath regime in Syria. They said Shalom's attack was also better, because he spoke to television cameras and Cabel did not. "When politicians want to solve immediate problems, they often say things that they can't take back and cause themselves long-term damage," Kadima strategist Eyal Arad said. "It's too early to say if we will use the [Cabel quotes], but they certainly won't help the Labor Party."